Day 67: Ahh My Leg!!

Today was a doozy. Another near-century (we’re gonna call 96 miles a century at this point) with 5,000 feet of climbing. The elevation map looked like a right triangle. It was mostly a gradual climb but at 60 miles BAM it started to get extremely steep. At one point there were 7 people sagging in uncle Rico (the van). Although our expected time of arrival at the stayover was 8PM we got in at about 6:00.

Crescent is a town of about 300 people and it is so small that the people at the grocery store knew our stayover contact Gil from us just mentioning his first name to him.  After some last minute changes, we ended up staying at an old haunted out of use restaurant for the night. Complete with a bowling alley, a bar, a banquet hall, and a full kitchen straight out of the 1970’s, this place could pretty much be the set of the Shining. We couldn’t resist the haunted charm and ended up playing a game of hide and seek. Since it has been years since this place has been used we have to make our spaghetti and lentils dinner at a local church.

We had a surprise today, Jessica returned. After flying all the way to Eugene and then taking a two-hour cab she showed up at our stayover and surprised us all. We are all so happy to have her back.

Tomorrow we have loads of climbing into Crater Lake and we will not have service while we are camping at the top. It is a famously hard I4k ride and I am quite scared for my knees. So I will be absent for at least a day. We expect it to get extremely cold at the top and tent groups are actually trying to recruit more people into their tent for added warmth.

What goes up must come down right?

MB

 

Day 66: Blizzards for Days

Today Zach dedicated the ride today in honor of former ride leader, Catherine Kemp. Catherine’s friend Shae, passed away 5 years ago today from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Today was one of the best rides we have had in a while. There was a slight tailwind for the whole 75 miles, great sunny weather, nice views of vineyards with hills in the background, and the best van driver, Rebecca, who generously supplied us with apples at the first rest stop.

Since today is July 25 it is officially i4Christmas!…Except we had to postpone it. This is an annual tradition where riders gift each other things that they have found on the side of the road along with another more personalized gift that they spend a maximum of $5 on. Since this team just can’t seem to get our sh*t together on pretty much anything, we had to postpone it since none of us felt that we had enough notice to get good enough finds.

Since today is Phil’s birthday his dad kindly got Dairy Queen to donate the team blizzards. Some of us wiser riders took advantage of the any size fine print and balled out on a large.

We visited the University of Oregon campus where we had a donated pizza and cake dinner at their student union, organized by Zach’s sister.  After dinner we had time to explore campus and avid runner Arturo had the chance to do a lap on the campus’ famous track.  Although their union is much more modern than U of I campus, with much better restaurants, overall the campus was not as ‘green’ as I expected.

Now that we are this far along in the ride our relationship as teammates has evolved from being really good friends to practically siblings. We engage in playful arguments about just about everything from whether the peanut butter is better served with a spoon or knife or who gets to sit where when we shuttle a group of 26 of us in our 15 passenger van, to who gets the couch at the stayover (usually Kevin).

At this point in the ride we are entering single digits of days left, as of tomorrow. I had a conversation with Micheline today and I compare my feelings towards the trip ending to being similar to graduating. While it is very bittersweet to be leaving this amazing group of people and having fun filled days and laughs every day, the days are growing harder and my legs are starting to give out.

Not looking forward to 6,000 feet of climbing tomorrow.

MB

 

 

Day 65: And on Mondays We Nap

We had somewhat of a rest day yesterday as we rode 15 miles from Troutdale to real Portland city limits. We stayed at, or rather outside in tents, another alumni’s house, Jill. After we rolled in at around 10:30 Jill was nice enough to offer to do the team’s laundry. Then most of us headed into the city for the day, hitting all the famous destinations such as Voodoo Doughnuts, Powell’s bookstore, and the Salt and Straw ice cream.

Today’s ride was only a little longer than yesterday’s at 49 miles, probably one of the last short days for us. It was nice to have all the donated goldfish and cookie snacks from Illinois alumni and i4k alumni who met up with us at Miranda’s house. We went back to seeing mostly rural farmland with the occasional view of hilly pines in the distance. By the time we arrived most of us were still very tired from the lack of sleep from yesterday so we took multi hour naps on the gym floor of the First Methodist Church where we are staying today.

Tomorrow we are heading to Eugene, home of the University of Oregon

MB

 

Day 63: Portland, We Have Arrived…Kinda

Today Ben, an alumni and former ride leader from 2015, dedicated the ride to Colleen, a friend of his who has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Colleen has a one-year-old son and husband.

Today was a complete spectrum of both emotion and challenge. We started our ride in Hood River and rode 75 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing to a suburb of Portland, Troutdale, Oregon. We had a majority of the climbing in the first 30 miles of the ride and it was extremely hard. We pushed our limits and pulled up a gravel road for 5 miles uphill through tall trees and small waterfalls. At the top we had amazing views of Mount Hood, the snowcapped wonder that is visible from both Portland and Hood River. Once we reached the top we even passed a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail.  After the torturous uphill climbing we had stunning views of endless pine trees and hills. It was amazing to ride downhill at 30 mph, smelling fresh pine, and seeing all the amazing views. The last 10 miles of the ride was also very challenging with much uphill climbing as we made our way to the stayover, Melinda’s house, an Illinois alumni who will be hosting us for this evening.

As we pulled up drenched in sweat and grumpy we were greeted by the Portland alumni association with cheers and signs and a backyard already stocked with appetizers. The mood completely changed as we pulled off our shoes and soaked our feet in the small kiddie pool and chatted over lemonade in the backyard chairs. The Portland Illinois alumni are a tight knit community, and there were even guests in attendance who had no direct ties to Illinois, but just came out to show their support. It was an intimate night as we chatted and ate quintessentially Portland all-organic grub. There was even a bike-powered smoothie machine that we had a blast with.  It was some of the best food that we have had, and very nice to have a home cooked meal after a streak of donated restaurant pizza and pasta and lentils. The next morning the breakfast was amazing again, but the coffee really was the star of the show. Thanks for the donation Starbucks!

We did a Portrait session with Molly, the bubbly and positive social worker fighting cancer. Even though she sat before us with a shaved head, she talked of being happy to be surrounded by her loved ones and reflecting on what is important in life.

It was a crazy day filled with literal ups and downs but overall it was an i4k day I will always remember.

Smiling from the inside.

MB

 

Day 61/62: Wait are We in Washington or Oregon?

Neeca dedicated the ride today to her high school security guard. She found out recently that she died of pancreatic cancer.

Yesterday we rode 85 miles from Umatilla to Hook River State Park, and it was an extremely hard day filled with climbing and headwinds through a river gorge surrounded by yellow hills. It seemed that wind was characteristic of the area since the door of a convenience store we stopped in said “pull close if extremely windy”. To break up the long day we had 4 rest stops since the headwinds were so hard. Also groups split up leading into 3 mile interval pulls. Everyone was glad to be done with the day once we got back to the campsite at a staggering 8 PM. By the end of the day, fellow van driver Rebecca and I had spent 14 hours in the car after a brief stint waiting for some riders cuts to be bandaged in a local clinic.  However, the stars yesterday night were the brightest that we have seen on the trip and Nick Nodus and Analisa and I even saw a shooting star as we lay out before we went to sleep.

Today was infinitely better with only 55 miles, barely any headwinds and perfect crisp breeze. Since we were all so exhausted from yesterday’s ride, we took over a McDonalds for lunch, obviously using the McDonald’s app to get the best deals (major i4k key). We rode into Hood River Oregon, and it is absolutely beautiful. For me, it is one of my favorite cities we have visited. With views of snow capped Hood Mountain, a river dotted with wind surfers, hilltop lookout points, and tons of bikers and breweries (for the 21+ crew) we all are impressed with Hood River so far.

Making a decision on which state is the best is going to be very tricky in the end.

We all can’t wait for Portland tomorrow

MB

 

Day 60: Oregon!

Julissa dedicated the ride today to momma Burton, a mom of her friend who has breast cancer.

Today we crossed yet another and second to last state border into Oregon. The scenery was pretty much the same as yesterday, yellow wheat?* and rolling hills followed by deserty hills. The 71 miles today felt like an easy day, however the mid afternoon heat made the last part of the day the hottest. Umatilla is a quiet town of only 7,000. For our first dinner we got a community dinner of salad, fruit, and pizza for only $2. Usually on i4k we look at the cost of food based on cals/dollar. And in our eyes the pizza dinner was an extraordinary deal.

Tonight we are staying at the McNary Elementary school. Once we arrived in the gym we noticed that there was a climbing rope. Christina was the only girl to make it to the top! To reward ourselves after the long day, some of us rode our bikes two miles to the ice cream joint in town. “Dairy dependent” Kevin, even finished a 44 oz shake.  After the long day of riding, Micheline was able to finesse showers for us at an aquatic center a few miles away.

We will most likely not have service tomorrow since we are camping in Mary Hill state park. IN only a few short days we will reach Portland. It is crazy to think that teams in the past finished their rides there. It’s so sad that this trip is winding down.

10 more days here, Oregon, what you got?

MB